This evening, after dinner my wife, stepdaughter and I were in the kitchen hanging out, talking. I had finally figured out how to get my Sirius satellite account to play over the computer, so I had Channel 25, the Underground Garage playing on my laptop. The Rolling Stones' version of "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" came on and suddenly my stepdaughter and I were bellowing along to it, and to my wife's combination of amusement and horror, dancing around the kitchen.
I was surprised to find she knew the song, one of my favorites. I found out that she knew it because it's played a couple of times in the Pixar movie "Cars," including Chuck Berry's version. She and I started talking about notable versions of the song. The first time I'd ever heard it was as a teenager, when WXRT, the local "progressive rock" station played a live Tom Petty version. I came to know and love Asleep At the Wheel's version from their live classic "Served Live." My stepdaughter wondered if Elvis had covered it. We checked and could find no evidence of Elvis ever covering it, much to our surprise.
She and I started talking about music that she likes, and she asked if the Doors had ever covered it. She likes the Doors, she told me. I just about fell over. I had no idea.
The fact of the matter is that she and I are finding more and more musical common ground these days. Just a few months ago, in October, I bemoaned her musical taste-- basically, she had the taste of a nine-year-old girl (which she was)-- Hillary Duff, Hannah Montana, Jesse McCartney, etc. My wife and I only half-kiddingly prayed for the day to come soon when her musical taste improves.
Fortune shone upon us. Her musical taste is rapidly improving. The old Madness song "Our House" is getting more and more play on her itunes. Also, the Stones' "Playing With Fire," which she found while looking for another song. And now whenever we're in the car, she asks me to play Janis Joplin's acapella classic "Mercedes Benz." We also share a love of the Beach Boys. I don't care what anybody says, Brian Wilson was a songwriting and studio genius.
And just yesterday, she and I were watching a couple of old Eurythmics videos, "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" and "Love is a Stranger" together on Youtube. She digs both songs, and was fascinated by the videos. Her current plan is to direct music videos when she grows up.
When my wife and I started talking about getting married, our first concern was our kids. My son had endured two previous marriages-- marriages that foundered on the fact that I had a kid already from a previous relationship. And my wife's daughter was still processing her parents' divorce. We proceeded with caution.
We talked it over with our kids; we'd made the decision that if either kid had a problem with it, we wouldn't do it. But we were lucky-- our kids liked one another, and have done better that we ever dreamed.
Things with my new stepdaughter and I were good, but it was an adjustment for me, after having my apartment mostly to myself for a couple of years, except when my son was there every other weekend, to all of a sudden having a wife and a little girl there too. I'd been raising a son for more than ten years, and all of a sudden had to figure out how to raise a daughter too. And her wheels were spinning, figuring everything out-- dad and stepdad. She and I were adjusting to one another, and we were trying to figure this all out.
One day last year, my stepdaughter and I had a day off-- since she's a student, and I'm a teacher, this frequently happens. It was a day she's normally with her dad, so I was going to drop her off at his house. She and I had breakfast and chatted, and then we got in my car to head to her dad's house.
As we talked on the short drive to his house, I had my ipod shuffle going. As we neared her father's house, the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" came on, and we spontaneously started singing along to it. I hadn't known she knew and liked this song. We got to her father's home, but had to wait a minute while we finished singing the song. It was a great stepdad/stepdaughter bonding moment. God bless the Ramones.
The song finished, and we got out of the car. I walked her to his door, gave her a hug and left her with her father. I got back in my car realizing, with relief, that this was going to work. She's my girl.